Di­a­mond Dreams

Ne­glected, Then Re­built

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Ne­glected, then re­built

Im­i­ta­tion is the best form of flat­tery—and of­ten­times a way to pay homage to some­thing you re­spect. Franke Di­a­monds of Fort Worth, Texas, first got in­volved in trucks thanks to his fa­ther, Frank. Frank passed down a ’72 Dat­sun that his fa­ther, Robert, bought new. The Dat­sun had been a farm ve­hi­cle that was passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, end­ing with Franke. By the time Franke got the Dat­sun, he was 15 years old, and the mini-truck had def­i­nitely seen bet­ter days. “The floor was com­pletely rusted through,” Franke tells Truckin. “I had to tie a shoe­string to the car­bu­re­tor to give it gas.”

Although it was an honor to be the third gen­er­a­tion to take own­er­ship of this clas­sic Dat­sun, it sim­ply wasn’t safe to drive. The Dat­sun was used as a trade-in for a new truck straight from the deal­er­ship. For the next two years, Franke drove around in a newer truck un­til it was to­taled in an ac­ci­dent one night in the rain. With Franke’s luck not be­ing on his side, he de­cided to go a dif­fer­ent route in or­der to make some­thing spe­cial.

Sit­ting out­side of an old run-down tire shop was an ’02 Dodge Ram 1500. The Dodge was orig­i­nally built by Keith Sawyer and had been taken to many shows. The truck had gained no­to­ri­ety from be­ing in mag­a­zines and was a SEMA truck at one time, but now it sat di­lap­i­dated and need­ing some TLC. “I re­mem­ber see­ing it sit­ting there,” Franke says. “It was junk­yard sta­tus with grass grow­ing through the frame.” Of course, the truck didn’t run and the body needed at­ten­tion, but Franke had his plan.

The plan was to bring the Dodge back to life and show re­spect to Keith by re­turn­ing it to its for­mer glory. Af­ter pur­chas­ing the full­size Dodge and get­ting it back home, the first step was to get it run­ning. The en­tire en­gine had to be re­moved and cleaned up, with Franke per­form­ing all the work him­self. The air-ride sus­pen­sion was in pretty good con­di­tion, so only mi­nor al­ter­ations had to be made to get it road-ready. The fuel cell had to be re­built, and the en­tire body was sanded down to re­move the worn-out paint­work.

Franke de­cided to honor Keith by con­tact­ing him and let­ting him know what he was do­ing. Keith walked him through how he had orig­i­nally built it and how it looked in or­der to bring it back to life cor­rectly. Jeremy Hen­line of Hen­line Cus­tom Paint was given the honor to coat the Dodge the clos­est color to the orig­i­nal. Cory Hill from Cus­tom Touch Auto Trim was next to get started on the cabin, con­vert­ing ev­ery­thing to up­dated full cus­tom. From there, Franke sent the truck to Han­nah at True Grit Bed Lin­ers to reshoot the bed­liner.

“I could have built the Dodge Ram and changed it com­pletely,” Franke says. “But I wanted to bring this truck back to life be­cause of its pop­u­lar­ity in the truck scene.” Keith was hon­ored to see the fi­nal build once Franke had breathed some life back into it. Franke wishes to thank ev­ery­one who helped make this jour­ney pos­si­ble and es­pe­cially gives thanks to his late grand­fa­ther, Robert, and fa­ther, Frank.

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